Category Archives: Fun in Denver

Jazzee Supper Club @ 15th & Wazee

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Dining at the Wazee Supper Club as 15th & Wazee, as the world goes by outside.

Last winter I rediscovered the old/new Wazee Supper Club and found it to be the best place for Jazz in downtown. The old haunt has a deeply ingrained history. Like most of the history in this part of downtown, I found that little has been done to the 1881 Bon Ton Saloon since 1898. After the Bon Ton closed people continued to live above the saloon in small rented rooms. Not until 1954 did the building return to its original use with the opening of the Wazee Supper Club by proprietors James C. Capillupo and Albert R. Rotola. The partners had a decent run with the restaurant/bar until 1974, when brothers Angelo and Jim Karagas, owners of the legendary My Brothers Bar, added the Wazee to their eating establishments. It was a good fit. Brothers sits on the corner of 15th & Platte, the Supper Club is at the other end at 15th & Wazee. Most people will ask, do you remember when this was under the 15th Street viaduct?

The historic urban corner has rallied in the last ten years with new condos and businesses. Once again it is a friendly neighborhood hangout much like it was in the 1880’s when it was the Bon Ton Saloon.  

The fresh, old-newness of this historic space is understated. The original black & white floors and dark wood paneling cast a delightful spell over the dining room & bar. There is an extensive selection of craft beer, wine and mixed drinks. Sitting inside watching Denver go by sets the tone and makes one feel as if you are one of the in-the-know-folks who frequent this stylish, vintage eatery and bar.

On the night we decided to experience a real meal at the Wazee, it was raining. There’s just something about watching Denver in the rain and probably the reason we decided to eat like the rich and skinny. We never order an appetizer, but this night we ordered the grilled polenta that is paired with an Italian, garlic herb red sauce, it had a distinct grilled flavor I loved.  This small plate was more than enough for two people.  

I hate to admit it but I am not a huge fan of salads, but for Chip we ordered The Wazee Salad and split it.  It was plenty. The locally grown salad and veggies had a mixture of goodies to satisfy my crunchy, sweet, tart taste craving. 

Since I rediscovered this comfy place, I’ve longed to have a pizza but I need the gluten-free crust and usually, I’m the only one at the table who isn’t eating with abandon. To avoid explanations I usually just order their superb french fries (crisp, hot, perfect). This night Chip ordered The Bianca pizza with added toppings. I had a hankering for the BBQ pulled pork with cheddar and caramelized onions on a gluten-free crust. The tangy, sweet, smoky BBQ flavor was subtle, but not too much so and was a perfect match for the slow-cooked pulled pork.  The crust was one of the best G-F crusts I’ve ordered in a year. Thin, tasty and crisp where it should be. I asked about the crust. Chef Bob said he orders all their gluten-free products from a bakery in Longmont. 

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The Bianca and the BBQ pulled pork pizza.

No jazz on the Wednesday we visited. The jazz jam will return next fall and I must tell you, it is seriously one of the most sophisticated and delightful evenings one can spend in downtown Denver. The crowd is made up of low-key, local jazz lovers and musicians who gather to listen & play music. Often times a visiting musician will join the ever changing group with a song or instrument. Jazz musicians Bob Montgomery and Al Hermann form a group made up of professors, scientists and musicians who love to chat at your table and tell stories of recent gigs in Russia, Chicago or the White House.  Since I am from Arkansas, one musician delighted in telling me about the night he let Bill Clinton sit in on his gig. Jazz musicians get around all right.

Arriving at the corner of 15th & Wazee is no problem. After 6:00 p.m. street parking is assured, but,  be aware of your parking meter time. Last winter, as we listened to slow jazz with a glass of wine, watching the snow fall on downtown Denver I watched one of the wait staff jump up from her stand, bolt out the front door, run down the street without a coat, to put money in our meter. Now that’s what I call hospitality. 

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May the [Art] Circles be Unbroken

It’s fun to go over to the Navajo Art District (38th & Navajo) and hit  openings on a Friday night. First, you should stop at Patsy’s 1930’s bar, the only one on this block of Navajo, have a drink, hit the galleries, then come back as we did to eat their old world Italian pasta.  We had the thick meat sauce & sausage with minestrone soup & salad sitting at the bar. Steve, the bartender is generous with the hard stuff and can work a full bar without missing a beat. He has eyes in the back of his head, your glass is never empty – if that’s they way you want it.

Zoa Ace is the featured artist at Zip 37 Gallery through April 13th. Her work never ceases to delight viewers with teeming feminine scenes, whimsical and artistic. Her incredible color palette inspires love at first sight. And her paintings remain full of Zoa Ace-isms from the calla lillies to her signature doll-faced girls in fancy dresses.  If you can stand in front of one of her paintings without being elbowed, you can spot Minnie Mouse, Olive Oil, sometimes a high-wire performer;  she dreams of animals, umbrellas, clocks and jewels.

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Mary Recchia, Zoa Ace, Louis Recchia

They’re the iconic duo in Denver’s art world, Zoa Ace and her husband, Louis Recchia (with a backward R). Over the years, instead of morphing into look a-likes, like husbands & wives do, their work has morphed into a similar style with repetitive themes. One has to be somewhat familiar with each’s limitless sense of humor and their love of iconic personalities to grab the instant recognition of a Zoa or a Louis. The pair have uncanny harmony that is distinguishable alone, yet, tells the real story:  they have shared days, months, years and hours in the same house, bed and studio. Now, their daughter Mary, has stepped into the spotlight. She shows her airy, detailed, pen & ink drawings in Zip as well.

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Collin Parson

Across the street at the legendary Pirate Contemporary Art gallery another chip-off-the-old-block is on the walls. His father, Chuck Parson, has been a well-known Colorado artist for the last 25+ years. Now we have the pleasure of his son, artist and likeable guy, Collin Parson. He’s a product of the latest wave of artists who know the inside of a computer. Collin says he’s an artist, but adds, his father is the real artist, one who can draw, paint, sculpt. I say Collin is cutting himself short. He is a genius. Imagine creating modern flowing, symmetrical designs on a computer screen then actually putting the design into real metal. The results are astonishing and quite beautiful. I see it in the lobby of buildings like – General Motors?

Zip 37 Gallery, 3644 Navajo Street. www.zoaace.com

Pirate Contemporary Art, 3655 Navajo Street. www.collinparson.com

 

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Session Kitchen serves up eating sessions

South Pearl is pretty cool, even cooler now. With the Breckenridge/Wynkoop’s latest venture in full swing, neighbors and visitors alike are in awe of the new dining adventure  – named for a new way of dining – sessioning means sharing. Meals are served in cast-iron pots and priced per person.

What separates this new restaurant is the interior. Concept Director, Lisa Ruskaup and her team set out to design a gallery within a restaurant. Denver Art Matters posted the first look inside Session Kitchen in October before its opening. I made a second visit while food and shift sessions were happening like clock-work.

The experience of Session Kitchen focuses on a menu designed by Chef Scott Parker from Table 6, and, the art. Inside the Kitchen is a dining experience transcending any other except, for perhaps, a gourmet restaurant inside a world-class contemporary art museum.

Here is the latest art added to Session Kitchen. Despite the openness and floor to ceiling glass the Kitchen feels and smells warm and healthy. Art and ambiance take center stage where diners relax with friends for a session of food and drink.

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Artist Abner Recinos Meija, Guatemala, ‘Smoke Lady’

Tiny Bird mobile by artist, Emi Brady, Denver.

Tiny Bird mobile by artist, Emi Brady, Denver.

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Chef Chris

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Artist Chris Sessions, ‘Full Pipe’

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Swine, Swindle & Shutter ends February, 2013

It snowed all day yesterday, but I saw purple and yellow crocuses blooming Sunday. I’m sure spring is close, I had the first whiff of thawed earth this weekend. Winter is waning I know, because PR people are sending out ‘Mark Your Calendar,’ releases to the media informing us the party is starting. And so it is, the best time of the year in Denver is revving up.

Swine Tasting

IMG_2172  Chef Justin Brunson

It was beautiful last Wednesday when I went to the new restaurant, Old Major, for a media food & wine tasting. The name Old Major was taken from the boar in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. From start to finish the only thing I could complain about was the bright, hot sun beaming down on me, and only me. There was nothing to do but suffer. The manager felt my pain and stood so that his head shielded me from the brightness here and there, but until the fireball went down, I was in the sun light, and, though I know better, I wore my sunglasses throughout the food and wine tasting. The lastest hippest foodie restaurant is in LoHi, 3316 Tejon, I expected an older home to house the so-called rustic kitchen. The building at one time was a roller rink but I saw no evidence of that. The interior was redesigned in dark rustic, wood, brick & glass, using the kitchen as the center piece. Diners can see through the glass partition to the working kitchen. The food being prepared in there rocks. Like South Carolina’s new wave of chefs, such as Sean Brock, whose rule of thumb says every item served must be grown in, and have historical relevance to the region, Chef Justin Brunson, while not a Southerner, is from the same school of thought. Even though Colorado is not as rich in year-round vegetables and herbs, the staff and chef focus on serving food from local farms with no genetically engineered vegetables or grains, and they are basing their reputation on serving heritage-raised meats. Old Major is innovative. They’ve introduced the idea of nose-to-tail butchery. That means every part of the animal has a purpose and distinct flavor. The last dish served to the slathering media, before the thick, silky, creme brulee arrived garnished with a crisp, flavorful strip of bacon, was a thick juicy pork chop from Zimmerman Pork Farm in Hotchkiss, Colorado. It was to die for. With the advent of the Food Chanel, food has become a fine art form that everyone can enjoy. Like all artists, today’s chefs must be educated about their craft, knowledgeable of their region’s bounty of food and know what’s available in what month. But it’s overseeing quality first that is the test of artfulness. Using Sean Brock’s recipe for the PIE Theory, it’s evident Chef Brunson is on top of the formula for fine, tasteful dining. PIE = Product, Inspiration, Execution.

IMG_2177         Pork Chop from Zimmerman Pork Farm

IMG_2179   Old Major kitchen

Catch Me If You Can

After a delightful 2 hour Old Major’s experience, I raced over to the Denver Post for a presentation by authors, then left early to get to the Buell Theatre for “Catch Me If You Can.” I love musicals. This one was zippy and fun. There was something less-highly-polished about this production compared to say, “Memphis.” It could have been that the trucks carrying the sets were stranded in Kansas due to the weather, so opening night was Wednesday instead of Tuesday. When it comes to the story behind this brilliant but unlikely con man, most people like to add that, ‘He shouldn’t be applauded for his crimes.’ I find it fascinating. Without doubt, Frank Abagnale, Jr., was a world-class con-artist. It’s hard to believe that a 16 year old young boy/man, was able to convince professionals that he too was a professional pilot, doctor, lawyer. In real life, Frank must have been a natural, handsome charmer. In the Denver production, Stephen Anthony / Frank had me convinced. He was equal parts engaging, cute, well-mannered, curious, innocent and he capably carried off the character of a young boy in trouble, sinking deeper over his head, but doesn’t know how to stop doing the bad things he got himself into by mistake. Stephen Anthony could sing and dance to boot. It was fun to watch even if the entire production was a bit road weary. There was a rhinestone or two missing on opening night but, perhaps the real problem was they just didn’t have time to get their costumes cleaned and sparkling for a delayed opening night.

Catch-Me-Logo

It was First Friday, March 1, 2013

IMG_2193         Gallery 1261, artist Heather Neill

IMG_2189   At Gallery 1261, 1261 Delaware,

My fav art peeps:  artist, Daniel Sprick, art consultant, Candice Pulliam, sculptor, Jay Eighmy.

IMG_2182   Space Gallery, Santa Fe Art District,

ICONS, artist William Stoehr

IMG_2185   Deborah Jang, multi-media,

Carson Gallery, An Exhibit Space of the Art Students League of Denver, 700 Santa Fe

new-Warhol-hi-res_1  In keeping with the March theme, Month of Photogrpahy, at Walker Fine Art, 300 11th Avenue, my choice for best-of-night was photographer, Sally Stockhold and her “The Life I Never Lived,” series.  This woman is amazing. Notice, every person in the shot is my favorite artist, Sally Stockhold.

We also stopped at Byers-Evans House Gallery, CHAC, Artists on Santa Fe, Goodwin Fine Art Gallery.

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Bill Amundsen to talk at Denver Art Museum Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday, November 28 2012, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
November 28, 2012Nervous_Patriot

With meticulous draftsmanship, Bill Amundson infuses social commentary and satire in portraits and in images of Middle America. He captures the absurdities and eccentricities of life in witty and humorous visual critiques. In works such as Teen Excavation andNervous Patriot – both in the Denver Art Museum collection – he addresses existential predicaments, from typical teenage angst to grown-up political anxieties. Amundson’s work has been widely exhibited and is in many public and private collections.

Image Credit: Bill Amundson, Nervous Patriot, 2004. Graphite on Paper. (c) The Artist. Image courtesy the Denver Art Museum.

General Lecture Information:

All lectures begin at 7:00 pm in the Sharp Auditorium at the Denver Art Museum’s Frederic C. Hamilton Building. Doors open at 6:15 pm. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call: 720-913-0130 or go online to https://tickets.denverartmuseum.org/Bill_Amundson_LL

INDIVIDUAL LECTURES:
$8 Students and DAM volunteers
$12 DAMC members and artists
$15 DAM members
$18 Non-members
SERIES:
$45. This special price is available only to DAM Contemporaries members and available here:https://tickets.denverartmuseum.org/LL_Series

SPONSORS:
This series is made possible with the generous support of Vicki and Kent Logan and DAM Contemporaries.

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FAUX ART at MOA

www.moaonline.org
On August 11th, 2012 MOA will open The Faux Show, an exhibition that simultaneously pays tribute to and satirizes contemporary artists and their often controversial work. The Faux Show is a playful pastiche of some of the most iconic contemporary artists of our time.  Less political and ironic than its Postmodern predecessors, The Faux Show is designed to create an environment in which viewers can explore the nuances of contemporary artwork and draw their own conclusions.The Faux Show will feature custom art pieces created by MOA Design and Build interns under the guidance of master artist and puppeteer, Cory Gilstrap. Additional artists from the Denver area will contribute custom pieces for the exhibition as well.

The opening reception of The Faux Show will be August 11th from 5 pm – 9 pm and is free and open to the public. The opening event will include a live DJ, drinks, and light fare in the MOA sculpture garden, and will be followed by a silent auction and theatrical performance featuring psychedelic rock and aerial arts by Denver’s own Lunar Fire.

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